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Individuals Matter: Convictions and Leaderships Styles in German Foreign Policy

What is the German chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership style and how do her convictions affect political decisions? Have her leadership style and convictions remained constant over the years or have they changed over time? And how does the chancellor’s leadership style compare to those of the leaders of other countries?

These are some of the questions that are analyzed in research on leadership trait analysis (LTA) and in the operational code (OP code) approach. Both approaches assume that leaders influence their country’s foreign policy through their personal convictions and their style of leadership to a considerable extent. One method of analyzing Angela Merkel’s leadership style is to evaluate the language she uses when speaking, particularly when she is making spontaneous statements. This linguistic analysis provides insights into whether Merkel focuses more on tasks or on creating a good working atmosphere when dealing with staff, for example, or on how much she trusts or distrusts other leaders.

While this approach holds great potential and can be applied in many areas, so far a significant hurdle for researchers who want to analyze German-speaking political leaders is the fact that the computer program Profiler Plus, which enables automatic quantitative analysis of spontaneous utterances, is only available in English and is therefore not a suitable tool for an in-depth analysis due to the lack of a significant number of English-language speeches and interviews by German leaders.

The project ‘Individuals Matter: The Influence of Convictions and Leadership Styles on German Foreign Policy’, which was launched on October 1, 2016, and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), aims to fill this gap by creating a German version of the analysis program Profiler Plus. Then, in the second stage of the project, this program will be used to conduct the first systematic analysis of the utterances of all chancellors and ministers of foreign affairs since the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany. In the final stage, the information gained will be used for an empirical study that will look at questions such as whether Angela Merkel’s leadership style is still the same today as when she took office.

Project team

Prof. Dr. Klaus Brummer (KU)

Christian Rabini, MA (KU)

Dr. Mischa Hansel (RWTH Aachen)

Katharina Dimmroth, MA (RWTH Aachen)